Identity Theft on the Rise
Identity theft is a problem that seems to have been growing over the past several years. Law enforcement is cracking down on identity thieves. Still, there are new ways to steal peoples’ identities every single day. The IRS released their top ten identity theft prosecutions for 2015 in March.
#1: James Lee Cobb III and Eneshia Carlyle
In June of 2015, the couple was sentenced and ordered to pay almost $4 million dollars in restitution for their roles in identity theft. The Tampa couple used tax schemes and wire fraud to scam money from victims over the course of several years. The two conspired with others to use stolen names, social security numbers, and dates of birth in order to file phony tax returns and open prepaid debit cards. They claimed nearly $3 million dollars in income tax refunds with this scam. They will be spending several years in prison as well as having to pay millions of dollars to the IRS for their parts in the scheme.
#2 Keisha Lanier and Tracy Mitchell
In September of 2015, 9 defendants stood trial for defrauding the IRS of $24 million dollars in an identity theft tax refund scam. Ringleader Keisha Lanier was sentenced to 180 months in prison. She was also ordered to for close to $6 million for her role in the conspiracy. Between January of 2011 and December of 2013, Lanier and co-conspirator Tracy Mitchell filed more than 9000 false federal income tax returns. They claimed $24 million dollars in fraudulent refunds. The IRS paid out nearly $10 million in refunds on these claims.
#3 Eddie Blanchard
In August of 2015, Eddie Blanchard was sentenced to 204 months in prison in Virginia. Blanchard and co-conspirators Ramoth Jean, Junior Jean Merilia, and Jimmy Lord Calixte traveled to Richmond several times in 2012 to steal personally identifying information. They used the information to file hundreds of fake tax returns. The ring used online tax preparation programs to claim large refunds on the returns. They then requested the refunds be put onto prepaid debit cards. The scammers were forced to pay almost $570,000 in restitution for money collected via the scam.
#4 Julio Concepcion
In July of 2015, Concepcion was sentenced to 84 months in prison in New Jersey and ordered to pay over $5.5 million in restitution. Along with several conspirators, Concepcion was able to collect personal identifying information to file false returns. He then obtained fraudulent refund checks and opened bank accounts to deposit the checks using fake information.
#5 Patrice Taylor
Taylor was sentenced to 84 months in prison in July of 2015 in Georgia. Taylor was sentenced along with three other suspects for collecting nearly $2.5 million dollars in scams. She and her husband filed over 1000 tax returns electronically using personal information gained from her employer. Patrice Taylor was employed at a hospital in Georgia. She gained access to patient information files in order to use their identities for fake tax returns.
#6 Stacy Williams
Stacy Williams was sentenced in June of last year in Georgia. She was the last of 15 defendants charged federally for a variety of crimes including wire fraud, wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information, and aggravated felony theft. She was sentenced to 94 months in prison and ordered to pay close to $85,000 in restitution for her role in the scheme.
#7 Tamaica Hoskins
The Alabama woman was ordered to spend 145 months in prison for her role as a ringleader for a $4 million dollar identity theft ring. Hoskins, along with several co-conspirators, used stolen identities to file over 1000 fake tax returns and claimed more than $4 million in refunds. She was able to steal personal information from a number of places and set up sham businesses in order to file the fake returns.
#8 Tiffani Williams
Tiffani Williams was ordered to pay over $1.5 million dollars and sentenced to 123 months in prison in Tampa, FL. Last September, the Florida woman was convicted of theft of property and aggravated identity theft. Over a four year period, Williams used several aliases to gain personal identification of others. She then used this personal information to file tax returns. She and others involved in the ring collected over $5.3 million dollars in federal tax refunds.
#9 Jason MacLaskey and Omar Butt
These two men were the final ones sentenced for a large identity fraud ring in Houston. Both men were sentenced to 120 months in prison. They were also ordered to pay $315,000 in restitution. As part of their scheme, they obtained social security numbers, birth dates, and names from almost 400 taxpayers. They used the information to file false tax returns. The entire crime ring netted over $1.4 million dollars in false tax refunds.
#10 Densom and Winzorn Beaucejour
The Miami brothers were each given 70 month prison terms for their roles in identity theft and fraudulent unemployment insurance claims. They gained personal information from more than 1000 individuals. They used this information to file phony tax returns for nearly $415,000 in refunds.
The IRS takes identity theft very seriously. They are presented with millions of dollars worth of false income tax scams each year. In response to the rise of identity theft the IRS has begun working with the Law Enforcement Assistance Program. They have set up more than 1100 state and local offices in 48 states. For more information about identity theft and how the IRS is dealing with it, visit the IRS website.